Wonderland –

___In the high dry lands of southern Utah, near Hanksville, the desert becomes something like a stereotype or parody of itself. It is a cartoon desert with sand and sagebrush for endless miles and the most unlikely orange and white stone castles and parapets sticking up at strange distances and positions. It has a gray-green-tan-iron red coloration and is so arid that what life there is out here is gray and low and crouches sparsely upon the sands.

___It is an eerie place, a dangerous place. It sears the eyes and captivates them at the same time.
___It is truly amazing.

    ___When one comes to the stony desert like this, it is perhaps to be expected that we should more readily encounter the big questions of life. The desert is such a grandiose and extreme experience, that it naturally invokes such musings. Life, in particular, is put in such instant and stark perspective, that I really begin to question it. Not just the difficulty of life in the harsh environment here, but just the very fact of it. We all have thought of questioning why life exists, but I think we tend to backshelf it early on for lack of answers that make sense, and so we don't really think about LIFE itself very often. Being out here where the land looks very much like it could be red Mars, I do think about it.
___Why doesen't ALL of Earth look like this? Why does this effect occur that we call life? What puts it in motion and keeps it in motion, rather than having a world composed of stones, mud, dirt, sand, and inert liquids and gasses? Religions and pat answers aside, this is a true, deep, and impenetrable mystery. I look upon it with awe and some part of fear. The desert reflects this mood, showing me what the world should look like, if life were not what it is - if life were properly some fantasy and fool's notion, and not a part of the sensible and real minerals and pressurized gas and great pools of liquids, all seething and roiling and weathering under the nuclear furnace swinging a few million miles away. That would make sense. That would be natural, but this LIFE - this backwards flowing energy effect that blankets the planet and won't go away! What brought this about?

___In Goblin Valley –

___I placed my hand on a huge sandstone boulder, perched on an unlikely column of mud and dirt. Within its stony layer, it has been lifted up to this position over millions of years. Dinosaurs once disturbed the dirt from which it was formed. Now, it has appeared here on its pedestal, emerged out of its matrix of mud which is being dissolved away with every infrequent rain and every howling wind.
___ Some say you can speak to stones, so I address this one directly. "I know you are slow of time and I am quick, but can you speak to me and tell me of your story? Time is long for you and quick for me, but time is just an illusion - a quirk of space and gravity. Space and gravity are what made you and brought you to this precarious position, but surely we can set time aside so that we may speak to one another? Time is nothing, really."

___ After a long pause, wherein only my heartbeat could be heard, the stone answered with a distant and soft voice in my mind, "Time is everything."

___ It was time to find a special place somewhere in all this wilderness – a special place to mark a circle in the desert and ask the Universe for a vision.
___In doing so, I shall follow the advice I was given to expect nothing, but to be ready for anything.

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